Louisiana may have incredible people, atmosphere, and food, but those factors have, unfortunately, not kept the state from struggling in other, important areas. Recent rankings from U.S. News & World Report have given Louisiana low scores for economy, education, and health care. It’s an ongoing struggle that can be seen in statistics reaching back for decades, particularly in the form of heart disease.
While heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States, Louisiana residents have proven especially susceptible, consistently having some of the highest cardiovascular disease death rates in the nation. Yet, there are some areas of the state where a completely different phenomenon has been observed. In these regions, heart disease mortality rates have actually improved over the past 30+ years.
*both maps taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Why Have Heart Disease Rates in Louisiana Decreased?
The answer to why these numbers have taken a positive turn in these particular areas goes all the way back to 1983, when Dr. Craig Walker returned to his hometown of Houma, LA to open his first cardiology practice. What began as a one-man clinic would eventually grow into a world-renowned practice with 22 locations, 60 physicians, and 750 team members across Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. And, as the presence of Cardiovascular Institute of the South grew, heart disease declined, a trend visible through data accumulated by the CDC. This incredible, positive impact on the cardiovascular health of CIS patients has been described by Dr. Walker as “our greatest accomplishment.”
Advancing Peripheral Artery Disease Care
From the onset, Dr. Walker’s intent was to bring not only the best cardiac care to south central Louisiana but to provide state-of-the-art peripheral vascular care in particular. PAD is a potentially life-threatening condition which affects 20 million Americans and leads to many amputations. It’s more common than breast cancer and is associated with a higher mortality rate. Yet, few patients have ever even heard of it. CIS has a long-held commitment to changing that as both a local and international leader in the arena of PAD awareness, treatment, and prevention, a position that has been solidified by trailblazing new and advanced treatment techniques and educating others through Dr. Walker’s annual New Cardiovascular Horizons conference and mentorship programs.
Looking to the Future
Following the same principles that have helped CIS develop a reputation as a world-renowned leader in cardiovascular care and innovation, our team continues to expand services and clinical research. CIS provides the most advanced techniques available to treat a range of cardiovascular and related conditions, with an increasing focus on minimally-invasive techniques that provider lower risk and quicker recovery times. Many of our physicians also serve as clinical investigators for new and innovative medical devices and frequently share their knowledge by lecturing across the country. Meanwhile, our team continues to integrate new technological advancements wherever possible, such as the newly-established Virtual Care Center featuring programs such as telecardiology, remote heart monitoring, mobile app, patient portal, and more.
The past 35 years have seen CIS grow exponentially, expanding to over 20 locations and bringing some of cardiology’s brightest minds to south Louisiana and surrounding communities. Residents have experienced the positive effects firsthand, as mortality rates from heart disease in these regions continue to improve. Still, CIS’s reach doesn’t stop there. Worldwide, patients are reaping the benefit of research and education pioneered by Dr. Craig Walker and other CIS physicians, and if history is indeed an indicator, the next 35 years will continue to bring about exciting developments, with CIS continuing to lead the charge.